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"But Perse-----"

Staring at her, he could think of nothing in the world to
say to her.

" But Perse, there is." She retreated before him, her eyes
still fixed on his face. She pushed the door fully open behind
her, not turning to look, and stepped back across the thres-
hold into the room. He came close to her, and she took
another step back, pronouncing his name and lifting one
hand a little in an indeterminate gesture.

The lamp on the table in the middle of the room was
turned down so low that the flame flickered weakly along the
wick and the shadows swam unsteadily, encroachingly, in the
corners and over the floor. What little light there was, the
woman's blonde hair caught. It was loose over her shoulders.
She was wearing a blue kimono. When she lifted her arm,
the looped and flowing sleeve emphasized its fragility and the
aimlessness of the gesture.

"Oh, Perse!" she exclaimed. "I can't stand it. What's
the matter, Perse?"

" Nothing," he answered, as she stared at him.

" You never tell me," she said weakly and lamentingly, her
arm rising in that gesture and then subsiding. "Not

He reached out as if to pluck at the flowing garment But
she stood too far away from him.

"It's so late; you stayed out so late." And then: "You've
been drinking, Perse. You've had whisky."

"No," he denied.

"What's the matter?   Oh, Perse!"

"God damn it!" he uttered, and stepped quickly to her
and seized her by the shoulders.

"You're hurting-----"

" Well," he said. He drew her to him, more tightly. Then
he began to kiss her on the face.

"Don't, Perse, don't!   Don't; I want to talk to you."

He continued to hold her. Then he began to force her
back, beyond the table.